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Reproducibility, Replicability and Reliability in Science

Safeguarding the integrity of science is a critical issue at a time when well-accepted scientific consensus in areas like vaccinations and climate change has been called into question. Speaking to the 152nd annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences on April 27, NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone looked at questions of research reproducibility, replicability and reliability, and ways to improve public respect and support for science.

National Academy of Sciences President Ralph J. Cicerone.
National Academy of Sciences President Ralph J. Cicerone.

Cicerone cited work done at a gathering of more than a dozen scientists in February at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands. The session, “Ensuring the Integrity of Science,” was coordinated by Annenberg Public Policy Center director Kathleen Hall Jamieson in her role as program director of the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, and Barbara Kline Pope, executive director of communications for the National Academies.

In his speech, Cicerone spoke about what happens when errors are published, and noted that at the Annenberg retreat, “it was suggested that there is a need for two different kinds of paper retractions: ‘voluntary’ and ‘for cause.’ The former category,” he added, “would be seen as a positive contribution and the latter would be viewed negatively.”

The Annenberg Public Policy Center opened an area for research into the science of science communication in October 2014, investigating ways that scientists can communicate more effectively with the public and seeking to close the gap between scientific knowledge and public perception.

Watch Cicerone’s full speech below, or read the full text of the address here.